What are My Rights After an Injury on the Job?
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is just one of the few catastrophic workplace incidents causing injuries that ever make front page news. There are other prolific examples. Each passing day, thousands of Americans face injury-causing hazards in the workplace yet many go unreported. Despite the circumstances surrounding your injury on the job, you have legal rights and protections available to you as an employee. Per a 2021 news release, over 4,500 workers in Louisiana suffered a job-related injury. Fortunately, Workers’ compensation laws in Louisiana ensure that employees who are hurt on the job are protected.
Each state has its own workers’ compensation laws, which provide benefits to employees who are injured on the job, regardless of fault. These benefits may include medical care, rehabilitation, and lost wages. While navigating the legal process may seem daunting, there are resources available to help you understand your rights and receive the compensation you deserve. With the right guidance, you can feel confident that your interests are being protected while you focus on your recovery.
What are Your Rights if You Get Injured on the Job?
In Louisiana, workers injured on the job have a range of rights under workers’ compensation laws. These laws, while varying in nature, grant employees the right to:
- File a claim for injury or illness in the state industrial court or workers’ compensation court
- Attend a workers’ compensation hearing
- Take charge of your health and secure the medical attention you deserve for work-related injuries. If needed, exercise your right to request a second opinion from a reputable medical professional.
- Receive all the workers’ compensation benefits they’re entitled to
- Return to work if cleared by their physician
- Receive disability benefits if unable to return to work
- Challenge a denied workers’ compensation claim
- Benefit from the expertise of a knowledgeable work injury attorney
In addition, employees injured on the job also have the right to refuse certain employer requests. For example, they have the right to decline their employer’s request to pay medical expenses through their personal health insurance. Similarly, they can decline incentives offered by their employer in an effort to prevent them from filing a workers’ compensation claim.
What Benefits are Available?
Typically, workers’ compensation offers five standard benefits. These are medical care, permanent disability, temporary disability, death, and supplemental job displacement.
When an occupational injury or illness occurs, the employee may receive several types of benefits, including:
Medical Expenses and Rehabilitation
This can cover both medical care to fully recover from the injury or illness, as well as services necessary to return to work. It may also include the cost of future medical care and modifications to accommodate life post-injury.
Temporary Disability Benefits
Financial support for employees unable to work as a result of injury or illness, covering the period until they are able to return to work or reach maximum medical recovery.
Permanent Disability Benefits
These are paid after the employee’s medical condition has stabilized and they have completed rehabilitation programs. The amount of benefits depends on the severity of the injury.
In the event of an employee’s death resulting from a work-related injury or illness, the employer or responsible party must pay benefits to the surviving spouse or children.
Filing a Claim for Benefits
Navigating the workers’ compensation claim process doesn’t have to be a daunting task. The first thing to do when protecting one’s rights after an injury on the job is to report the injury to the employer.
No matter how minor it may seem, it’s important to report it promptly, as most states have a deadline for reporting, typically within the same day or a few days of the incident.
After which you are at liberty to file a claim with the industrial court or workers’ compensation court in your state. Here are the steps summarized
Step-by-Step Procedure for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim:
- Report the injury to your employer, as soon as possible after the incident
- File a claim with the industrial court or workers’ compensation court in your state
- Seek guidance from a workers’ compensation attorney, if needed
When to File A Worker’s Compensation Claim
An illness or injury will likely qualify for workers’ compensation benefits if it happened on the job or within the employment scope. This includes occupational illnesses caused by exposure to toxic chemicals or other hazards.
To file a worker’s compensation claim, the following must be true:
- The victim has an active workers’ compensation policy
- The victim is an eligible employee of the employer in question
- The employee sustained injuries/ illnesses while at work due to working conditions.
In addition, in most cases, the statute of limitations for work-related injuries is two years. As such, an injured employee has no more than two years from the date of the incident to file a worker’s compensation claim.
The Importance of Hiring an Attorney
A workers’ compensation attorney is an essential ally for employees seeking fair compensation for workplace injuries or illnesses. Here are just a few of the benefits of working with a qualified professional in this field:
Expertise in the claims process
A workers’ compensation attorney knows the ins and outs of the claims process and can help ensure that all necessary paperwork is filed accurately and in a timely manner.
Increased likelihood of fair compensation
A lawyer can help identify all the benefits to which you are entitled and will work to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. In many cases, hiring an attorney can result in a better outcome than attempting to file a claim on your own.
Appeal assistanceIf your claim for compensation is initially denied, a workers’ compensation attorney can help you appeal the decision and fight for the benefits you need.
Strong negotiating skills
Dealing with insurance companies can be a complex and challenging process, but a workers’ compensation attorney has the experience and expertise to negotiate effectively on your behalf.
Peace of mind
Perhaps most importantly, a workers’ compensation attorney can answer all of your questions and concerns and provide the guidance and support you need to navigate this difficult time. With a workers’ compensation attorney on your side, you can focus on your recovery, knowing that your legal interests are in good hands.
If you’re injured on the job, you have legal rights and options available to you. You may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, or more but it depends on how soon you act on your claim. Don’t hesitate to seek legal assistance and explore your options to ensure that you receive the benefits and protections you’re entitled to.
If you have suffered an injury on the job, please contact the Charbonnet Law Firm, LLC online, or call our office at (504) 294-5094.